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Do as the Neighbors Do: The Impact of Social Networks on Immigrant Employees

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  • Fredrik Anderson
  • Simon Burgess
  • Julia Lane

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Abstract

Substantial immigrant segregation in the United States, combined with the increase in the share of the U.S. foreign-born population, have led to great interest in the causes and consequences of immigrant concentration, including those related to the functioning of labor markets. This paper provides robust evidence that both the size and the quality of an immigrant enclave affects the labor market outcomes of new immigrants. We develop new measures of the quality, or information value, of immigrant networks by exploiting data based on worker earnings records matched to firm and Census information. We demonstrate the importance of immigrant employment links: network members are much more likely than other immigrants to be employed in the same firm as their geographic neighbors. Immigrants living with large numbers of employed neighbors are more likely to have jobs than immigrants in areas with fewer employed neighbors. The effects are quantitatively important and robust under alternative specifications. For example, in a high value network – one with an average employment rate in the 90th percentile – a one standard deviation increase in the log of the number of contacts in the network is associated with almost a 5% increase in the employment rate. Earnings, conditional on employment, increase by about 0.7%.

Suggested Citation

  • Fredrik Anderson & Simon Burgess & Julia Lane, 2009. "Do as the Neighbors Do: The Impact of Social Networks on Immigrant Employees," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 09/219, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  • Handle: RePEc:bri:cmpowp:09/219
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    File URL: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/cmpo/publications/papers/2009/wp219.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. B.R. Chiswick & P.W. Miller, 2000. "Do Enclaves Matter in Immigrant Adjustment?," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 00-19, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
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    3. Cutler, David M. & Glaeser, Edward L. & Vigdor, Jacob L., 2008. "When are ghettos bad? Lessons from immigrant segregation in the United States," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 759-774, May.
    4. Patrick Bayer & Stephen L. Ross & Giorgio Topa, 2008. "Place of Work and Place of Residence: Informal Hiring Networks and Labor Market Outcomes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(6), pages 1150-1196, December.
    5. Chiswick, Barry R & Miller, Paul W, 1995. "The Endogeneity between Language and Earnings: International Analyses," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 246-288, April.
    6. Marianne Bertrand & Erzo F. P. Luttmer & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2000. "Network Effects and Welfare Cultures," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 1019-1055.
    7. John J. Abowd & John Haltiwanger & Julia Lane, 2004. "Integrated Longitudinal Employer-Employee Data for the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 224-229, May.
    8. Edward P. Lazear, 1999. "Culture and Language," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages 95-126, December.
    9. Yannis M. Ioannides & Linda Datcher Loury, 2004. "Job Information Networks, Neighborhood Effects, and Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1056-1093, December.
    10. Anna Piil Damm, 2009. "Ethnic Enclaves and Immigrant Labor Market Outcomes: Quasi-Experimental Evidence," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(2), pages 281-314, April.
    11. John M. Abowd & Bryce E. Stephens & Lars Vilhuber & Fredrik Andersson & Kevin L. McKinney & Marc Roemer & Simon Woodcock, 2009. "The LEHD Infrastructure Files and the Creation of the Quarterly Workforce Indicators," NBER Chapters,in: Producer Dynamics: New Evidence from Micro Data, pages 149-230 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Nabanita Datta Gupta & Lene Kromann, 2014. "Differences in the labor market entry of second-generation immigrants and ethnic Danes," IZA Journal of Migration and Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 3(1), pages 1-22, December.
    2. Julia Beckhusen & Raymond J.G.M. Florax & Thomas Graaff & Jacques Poot & Brigitte Waldorf, 2013. "Living and working in ethnic enclaves: English Language proficiency of immigrants in US metropolitan areas," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 92(2), pages 305-328, June.
    3. Yves Zenou, 2013. "Social Interactions and the Labor Market," Revue d'économie politique, Dalloz, vol. 123(3), pages 307-331.
    4. Strom, Steinar & Venturini, Alessandra & Villosio, Claudia, 2013. "Wage Assimilation: Migrants versus Natives and Foreign Migrants versus Internal Migrants," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 201341, University of Turin.
    5. Del Bello, Carlo L. & Patacchini, Eleonora & Zenou, Yves, 2015. "Neighborhood Effects in Education," IZA Discussion Papers 8956, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social networks; immigrant enclaves; labor market intermediaries;

    JEL classification:

    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General

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